Breguet Reine de Naples 8938: Just Perfect For My Wrist
by Nancy Olson
I first saw the Breguet Reine de Naples at Baselworld many years ago and I remember being taken by its absolute gorgeousness. It was so much more than a jewelry watch – ahead of the curve in serious ladies timepieces – and it seemed to be made just for my wrist.
But then again, every other female watch writer I spoke to that year thought pretty much the same thing. This was clearly a watch to be watched, I thought.
Many years and many “try-ons” later, the Reine de Naples is Breguet’s flagship ladies collection, now comprising a seemingly indefatigable array of models, the most recent of which is the Reine de Naples 8938, which is available in two versions.
The signature oval case is crafted here in white or pink gold, the former fitted on a blue leather strap and the latter on an orange leather strap.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
The dial is the aesthetic showpiece on the 8938, with snow-set diamonds concealing much of the gold architecture beneath. Snow setting, sometimes called random pavé setting, is an intricate affair wherein varying sizes of diamonds are set directly into hand-hollowed areas matching the sizes of the gems.
The diamonds are positioned very close together in random patterns, making each watch unique. The end result is a glittering display reminiscent of a (very expensive) wintry scene. Notably, even the single lug on the 8938 is decorated with snow-set diamonds.
Snow setting is not new to the world of watch dials and cases, with Jaeger-LeCoultre, Girard-Perregaux, Chanel, Richard Mille, and others having used it to enhance some of their pieces. The recent Richard Mille RM 07-01 and RM 037, as examples, are covered head-to-toe – or dial to bezel to bracelet in watch speak – in snow-set diamonds. The effect is dazzling.
Breguet Reine de Naples
Breguet debuted the Reine de Naples collection in 2002 to pay homage to the wristwatch that Abraham-Louis Breguet made for Caroline Murat, queen of Naples, in 1812.
Distinguishing features of the Reine de Naples collection include an elongated case with a delicately fluted case band, an offset dial at 6 o’clock, and the crown at 5 o’clock. Gold – pink, yellow, and white – is most often used for the case, but steel-cased models have joined the collection as well. Leather straps, fabric straps, or metal bracelets complement the designs.
Dials are as varied as one’s imagination, with mother-of-pearl, enamel, hand-engraving, and precious gems creating memorable and distinct impressions. Even seashell, crafted as a cameo, has been used for some nature-inspired and mythological themes. Roman or Arabic numerals most often mark the hours in bold or subtle configurations.
This new model 8938 uses a classic combination of materials, including nearly 400 diamonds on the dial alone, interrupted by a mother-of-pearl chapter ring featuring Breguet numerals.
The mechanics of the Reine de Naples watches range from simply beautiful time telling to grander complications. The 8938 displays hours and minutes, powered by a 26-jewel automatic movement with a platinum oscillating weight and silicon balance spring. The sapphire crystal case back gives a good view of the goings on.
In addition to all those snow-set sparklers on the dial and lug, the 8938 also includes a diamond-set bezel, flange, crown, and clasp (triple blade) on the strap.
The blued-steel Breguet hands are a nice counterpoint to the cool white of the flawless diamonds on the dial, I think, coaxing the slightest hint of color from the mother-of-pearl chapter ring.
And just when I thought the Reine de Naples had covered all the bases of compelling watch design over the past two decades, I discover a surprise.
For more information, please visit www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/new-models-reine-de-naples/8938.
Quick Facts Breguet Reine de Naples 8938
Case: 40 x 31.95 x 10.05 mm, white or pink gold; bezel, flange, and lug set with 161 diamonds (approx. 1.82 ct), crown set with briolette diamond (approx. 0.26 ct)
Dial: gold dial with 384 snow-set diamonds (0.89 ct); offset mother-of-pearl chapter ring with Breguet numerals
Movement: automatic Caliber 537/3 with platinum rotor and silicon balance spring and escapement; 45 hours of power reserve; 3.5 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes